In U.S. Fear Registration Confusion
By Bryan Virasami
December 31, 2002
It's unclear if North Korea poses a nuclear threat but the Justice
Department is not taking chances with that country's citizens who
visit the United States.
The special registration program that requires male visitors from
such countries as Iraq and Iran to register with the Immigration
and Naturalization Service also includes North Koreans.
The inclusion on Nov. 22 of the Communist state has some watchdog
groups and Korean community leaders scratching their heads - and
not just because North Korea allows few of its citizens to leave
"There will be a lot of confusion because Koreans, many of them
were born in North Korea," said Andrew Kim, president of the Korean
American Association of Greater New York.
The registration rule states that visitors, including foreign students
from North Korea, must register with the Immigration and Naturalization
Service by Jan. 10 or risk deportation. It's part of a plan to keep
tabs on visitors from so-called terrorist states.
A State Department spokesman said that during a 12-month period
ending in September, just 30 North Koreans were issued student visas
to study in the United States.
And the Institute of International Education, which administers
the Fulbright program, said a recent survey showed only 113 North
Korean students were in the U.S.
In New York, some Korean immigrants wonder if South Korean citizens
who were born in the north may be delayed or be scrutinized unfairly.
Potential targets include tourists, students and business travelers.
"I'm worried very much," said Nicholas Yongchan Lee, 64. "I was
born in North Korea."
Lee, an American citizen who lived in South Korea before moving
to New York, is a social worker at the Korean Counseling Center
in Flushing and recently visited the north to see old friends.
Sin Yen Ling, an attorney with the Manhattan-based Asian American
Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the whole registration program
should be abolished for its inherent unfairness.
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